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Uncompromising Quality, Performance & Reliability  
   
 

Corporate Profile

Advanced Pressure Technology, better known as AP Tech, was founded in mid-1987 by President and CEO, Rene Zakhour. Rene’s objectives were to provide products with uncompromising quality, performance and reliability from a company with exceptional service and technical support. These goals have continued to guide the company throughout the years. In 1988, AP Tech began producing pressure regulators and valves intended solely for the semiconductor industry. These gas handling components were designed and manufactured exclusively for ultra high purity applications. The company’s efforts have remained focused on meeting the ever-changing needs of what is now termed ‘ultraclean’ technology. Our product designs and manufacturing techniques are constantly evolving to meet the future challenges of the industry’s next generation requirements at a competitive price. The product line continues to grow year by year with additional innovative components which compliment our offering.One of the most important founding principles was customer service and support. This means fulfilling individual customer needs in addition to ultraclean requirements. This has been accomplished by establishing flexible operations systems which allows products to be easily tailored to specific needs and yet delivered in a timely fashion. It also means providing quick responses to inquiries – whether technical or commercial in nature. We pride ourselves in giving accurate answers to questions within minutes or hours rather than days or weeks. Today, AP Tech continues to strive towards our goals. We are still working to improve our already high standards of quality, performance and reliability backed by service and support.

The heart of our company is in its manufacturing operations. It binds together each of our departments with the common goal of customer satisfaction. The system is ever flexible to enable products to be easily custom tailored to meet specific needs and yet delivered in a timely fashion like a standard product. An integrated bar code system tracks all inventory and work in process. It enables us to optimize production planning and to instantly pinpoint an open order’s status or available uncommitted inventory. Permanent records of all products shipped are maintained with the sales order for traceability and customer support. They include bill of materials, drawings released for the order, a copy of the product label, purchase order and all related correspondence.

 

Three grades of surface finishes are available: 15, 10, and 5. These finishes are conservatively measured in micro inches to a Ra max protocol. Profilometers verify each product’s surface profile while microscopes are used to insure a burr and void free high luster finish. An electropolishing and passivation step completes the surface treatment process for all of our products. A 100% post EP visual inspection double checks previous inspections and the EP process. Surface chemistries are routinely analyzed and verified by an independent lab.

An extensive array of automated, CNC machine tools are employed to produce our products. At AP Tech, the art of machining has been refined to generate the finest surfaces possible straight off the machine tool.

The primary materials of construction are low Sulfur secondary remelt 316L stainless steel and Hastelloy C-22. Material heat lot codes are permanently marked on the products. Mill certifications are commonly verified by testing at independent labs.

 

Surface treatment is as important a factor as the base material in achieving the desired surface chemistry and morphology. All of our products are therefore, each fully electropolished and passivated with great care prior to assembly. The process line is housed in a controlled area adjoining the cleanroom. It combines multiple cleaning and rinsing stations to properly prepare the parts prior to electropolishing, multi-step rinsing after both electropolishing and passivation with a blow dry station as a finishing touch. Custom tailored rack systems enable a full internal surface treatment. Two adjacent labs support the process, a chemical lab for bath analysis and a quality assurance lab to monitor the results. Hazardous waste has been virtually eliminated with a high volume distillation system to reclaim rinse water. The distilled water and the acids separated by the boiling process are recycled and used in non-critical applications. A unique containment system is built into the foundation of the building which enables catastrophic spills, however unlikely, to be captured and treated.

The water deionization system is constructed with butt welded PVDF piping and a constant circulating loop free of dead legs. The water quality is ensured by the double pass reverse osmosis system design with filtration to 0.1 micron. Water purity is carefully maintained through routine monitoring and testing. Resistivity is constantly monitored at 18 meg Ohm at two points in the system. An on-line analyzer monitors the TOC, total organic carbon, level of the system and water samples are routinely tested for other impurities.

 

A 10,000 square foot (1,000 square meter) certified Class 10/100 clean room is the cornerstone of our cleaning, welding, assembly, test and primary packaging operations. High efficiency ULPA filters are installed throughout the clean room with increased coverage to achieve Class 10 in key areas. Particle tests are routinely performed at bench top level during production to ensure a ‘clean’ environment. Workbenches have perforated stainless steel table tops for laminar air flow. Particle generating equipment, such as welding power supplies and leak detectors, are either bulk-head mounted or located in a controlled service chase. Gases are delivered through a high purity piping system. All piping is below bench top level and valving is air actuated to minimize operator handling.

 

AP Tech’s custom engineered cleaning process combines an aqueous biodegradable wetting agent and dispersant solution with DI water and ultrasonic agitation. All traces of the cleaning solution are removed through exhaustive extraction with 18 meg Ohm hot and cold deionized water until an effluent resistivity of ³17 meg Ohm is attained in the rinse water. Not only does this method virtually eliminate water-soluble residues, it also reduces particulate matter, ionics and hydrocarbon residues to unprecedented low levels. The cleaned parts are individually blow dried, baked at 150° C to eliminate volatile residues and cooled naturally. During the bake-out process, contaminants are continually purged from the oven with ultra pure nitrogen.

 

The utmost care is exercised in the welding process. We utilize the most advanced techniques available to assure weld purity, penetration and consistency. Welding is performed with custom computer controlled lathes that rotate the part to be welded rather than the heat source. This fully integrated and automated system enables complete control over the welding process and a uniformity. An Nd:YAG laser augments to a Tungsten Inert Gas, TIG, process. The laser achieves full penetration with a significantly smaller weld bead width and heat effected zone as compared to a conventional TIG weld. The laser is also utilized for difficult applications such as welding a thin diaphragm to a thicker member where controlling the heat and fusion are paramount. Purified electronics grade shielding gases are delivered through ultra high purity lines. Additionally, each weld is individually inspected externally and internally, where possible, to ensure integrity and freedom from discoloration.

Class 10 zones in the clean room help preserve product purity during the assembly process. Tweezers are used for handling small parts and the assembly engineers’ gloves are constantly replaced to prevent contamination. Assembled components are then 100% static pressure tested and functionally tested to insure proper operation prior to helium leak testing across the seat and outboard. Degreed mechanical engineers oversee every aspect of the clean room operation and perform the critical aspects personally.

Components, which have successfully completed testing, are then packaged prior to exiting the clean room. A final visual inspection, including a close examination of the connections’ sealing surface, is performed prior to double bagging. Product ports are covered with an aclar film and a protective cap. Labels, including a unique serial number, are applied. Units are enclosed in a nylon inner bag which is flushed with high purity nitrogen and sealed. A poly bag completes the second seal and the product exits the clean room via a pass through for final packaging and immediate shipment.

 

AP Tech is firmly committed to quality in every facet of our business. Each of our employees, from the president on down, fully embraces and participates in our extensive ISO 9001:2008 certified program1. Quality is built into our products during each manufacturing step and verified with appropriate inspections. A team from the QA department performs unannounced audits of every facet of our manufacturing. Statistical process control enables both quality monitoring and a continual improvement and cost reduction program. Metrics are posted in a main hallway which chart statistics such as scrap rates, returns from customers, etc. This enables employees and visitors to monitor key manufacturing quality indicators.

1 A copy of the Certificate of Registration is posted in the 'Tech Briefs' Government Regulation section.



   

It is the policy and objective of AP Tech to efficiently design, manufacture, and market, in an environmentally responsible manner, products that are safe, reliable, and that meet or exceed customers' requirements as well as statutory and regulatory requirements. AP Tech is committed to continuously improving quality, service, and delivery performance while preventing and reducing pollution to the environment with the ultimate aim of enhancing customer satisfaction and the company's contribution to the environment. This goal is achieved through the establishment, continuous evaluation, and deployment of the company policy and objectives at all levels and functions of the organization.

 

    • True metal seals to atmosphere, unassisted by permeable gaskets
    • No abrading wetted parts, nothing to rub and generate particles in the flow path
    • Fully swept minimal surface area and low internal volume free of dead legs
    • Low Ra values with proper surface chemistries and morphologies
    • Internal threads isolated from the media
    • Absolute minimum contribution of contamination to the gas stream

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